Edson Arantes do Nacimento, Pelé, the great legend of world soccer, died today in Sao Paulo. He is, by my reckoning, the greatest athlete of the 20th century and the finest soccer player ever to step on the pitch.
More than that, he was one of a handful of sportsmen who have transcended mere athletic fame to become a beacon of hope to oppressed people everywhere. The man stopped a civil war by his very presence for heaven’s sake. He rose from poverty, and endured direct manipulation of his own life by an unjust government to become larger than any president, any general, any religious figure. O Rei, indeed.